After watching her daughter die, Grace Corrigan carried on Christa McAuliffe’s mission

This picture will always be one of the most memorable news photographs of the ’80s.

It’s the moment at which Grace and Ed Corrigan, and their daughter Betsy, realized something was tragically wrong with the space shuttle flight they were in Florida to watch.

Grace and Ed’s daughter, New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe, was on board the space shuttle Challenger.

Grace was 94 when she died last Thursday, the Boston Globe says.

“Grace was basically carrying on what Christa would have done herself, had she survived that flight,” said Mary E. Liscombe, director emerita of what is now the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Integrated Science Learning at Framingham State University in Massachusetts. “She would always talk about Christa’s devotion to teaching and to the children.”

After her daughter’s death, Mrs. Corrigan said she took stock of her own life.

“Maybe that involves working with schools or teacher organizations or the Girl Scouts,” Mrs. Corrigan said in 1993, after her husband’s death. “If I weren’t doing something I felt Christa approved of, I’d feel guilty.”

“The important lesson we can all learn from Christa is to do what you want to do and do it as well as you can. I could have done without the losses in my life, I guess. But everyone suffers some loss along the way. You cannot escape it. Who promised us a rose garden?”

  • crystals

    This photo gives me chills every time I see it, and brings me straight back to the elementary school library where I was watching the launch with my classmates. It was the first event that was seared into my brain as a remember-exactly-where-you-were-when-it-happened moment.

    Rest in peace and power, Mrs. Corrigan.

    • Jack Ungerleider

      You mention remembering where you were. I was living and working in southern NJ at the time. That day was one where I went home at lunch time to call a travel agent and make arrangements for a trip to Minnesota ahead of moving back out here for good. Knowing the launch was going on I turned on the TV to watch. Yeah, its one of those things you don’t forget.

  • Tyler

    The more I read about the shuttle, the more amazed I am that it was allowed to fly.